Monday, June 30, 2008

Daydream believer...

We're baaack. Mike was absolutely right about going camping: we needed the mental break.
Elk, mountains, perfect weather and time with loved ones.

Interestingly, the waters in that area are well stocked with a variety of tasty beverages.
Good times.

If I may, a big happy "shout out" to the wonderful friends and relatives who braved the heatwave to come out and pseudo-picnic with us Sunday. You know who you are. :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This is how we do it...

We're off camping for the week.

How then, you may ask, am I posting to the blog?

Simple! I drove back the 2 1/2 hours this morning because I was sure I'd left the coffee pot on.

Didn't want to burn down the house.

So now you are undoubtedly thinking: bet it wasn't on.

But there you would be wrong, my friend. It was.

I'm generally right about being wrong. Always nice to be good at something.

Enjoy Bethy's photos from Silver Springs, including her stunning self portrait.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I feel pretty, oh so pretty...

Today I went to a curly hair cutting goddess named Farnez. She was amazing. I paid her double and she was worth every cent and more. I have never had such a gentle, thoughtful, curl-lovin' woman work on my hair before. She not only gave me a gorgeous haircut, and killer curl styling tips, but also as she is Persian, some pronunciation guidance (Dubai: "Doo-bay" ---the jury is still out as to whether that's correct--- Iran "Ay-rrhan") and how to care for one's curls in the Middle East.
I want to take her with us when we go.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Smile, though your heart is breaking...

When you're tired you make interesting mistakes. Here are our most interesting ones so far:

I didn't refrigerate our $140.00 Typhoid vaccine medication, though it was clearly labeled. Expensive mistake. Now I need to go get more. Dang it.

Mike tried, rather hard, to take a seat in Thomas' highchair. It actually took him a minute to realize his mistake.

And my personal favorite: I went to blow out a large jar candle, raised it to my lips, forgot what I was doing and damned near took a drink of the hot wax! Thank goodness the flame flickered and startled me out of my reverie and back to reality. Would've hurt.

Yesterday was the last day with my cat. Today she (and the houseplants) went to live with my parents. This is quite sad, since I've had her for 18 years. On the other hand, maybe she'll get some peace and quiet there away from the kids. Thomas, in particular, likes to lie down on top of her and play with her ears and chase her with loud toys. She's been far too tolerant with him, probably because he gives her the lid to his yogurt cup every morning.

Here's to hoping Kiki the cat likes her retirement home.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Because life is so short, there's no time to waste it, so run my baby run...

I ran what will very likely be my "last American race" Sunday, (I was going to run it no matter what). One of the very best people in the world met me there for it, Jill, who has been nothing less than inspirational to me. With her rooting for me (and booting me from behind) I ran my goal of 4 (hilly/ cross country) miles in 34:04, and a 2nd place ribbon. Truly she is one of the most enthusiastic, live-your-life, beautiful women I have ever met and she enjoys a good run, a good coffee, and a good beer. Did I mention she also heals the sick and comforts the dying?

One thing about knowing your time in your homeland is limited; your priorities and loves become clarified.

Time with friends (pizza with the wonderful girls who let me blab pretty much nonstop about Dubai), a quick movie with another busy friend, (SATC: I tried and tried to like it, but it just left me feeling used.) The company was fabulous, even if the movie wasn't.

Time with family (dinners and get-togethers and farming the kids out to Grandma so we can get things done)
getting stuff done what are we taking, leaving, and what are we dumping as fast as we can...anybody need anything?

Then the other stuff

We went to the Washington Brewer's Beer Fest because it was close and we had no kids and were too exhausted (and therefore useless) to do anything but sample beers anyway. Iron Horse Brewery 's Irish Death is an amazing Imperial Sweet Stout and I would buy it by the keg if I could.

Mike asking for a week (!) of camping as the only thing he wants for his 40th birthday. Technically this qualifies as family time, but it does combine that love with our love of the great NW outdoors. So we will rush around and kill ourselves...and then go.

Again Mike: planning a bring-your-own-picnic in Kent for friends & family where there just happens to be outdoor racquetball courts (OK, so perhaps it's not really a coincidence). That's on June 29th, by the way, in the afternoon. Best time to say ma'is salaama to the VanCleaves.

Most of our planning energies are going towards making this a great experience for the kids. (I admit it, they've been at Grandma's for all of 2 1/2 days and I miss them terribly).

So there it is, the VanCleave defining factors. For me, running. For Mike, racquetball. (and no worries, we've been welcomed by folks in Dubai who are eager to do both with us!) For the both of us: family, friends, (beer) and the great NW outdoors. It's not original, but works for us.

Our stuff that we're packing and arranging care for and stressing over, eh, just stuff.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Keep holding on...

Mike, being the great daddy that he is, (I love this guy!) suggested that Bethy should have her own box to pick out which toys she'd like to take to Dubai, instead of having me swoop through and choose for her.

Bethy loved the idea. I found her a box. She was all excited. Then she packed it, and then repacked it, over a period of a few days.

Then came the question I'd been dreading:
"Mommy, why is my box so small?"

I think I have her held off with "It has to fit in your suitcase, sweetheart," and promises to take other items in addition, like books and movies, and her favorite stuffed dogs, Dog-Dog and Heartie. We shall see.

The little people had their travel immunisations and blood draws today. It actually went really, really well. No tears at all from Bethy, and a quick recovery both times by Thomas. These kids are so great.

Mike and I are running on, oh, perhaps 2 of our 4 alotted cylinders. Driving, conversations that involve nouns, walking from one area to another and then recaling why the trip was made, well, these things have become difficult. We'll look back and laugh about this. Actually, we're laughing about it now.

Do they know it's Christmas?

Bethy: Mommy, will there be Christmas in Dubai?
Natalie: Yes, though it'll be different from here, since lots of people celebrate Christmas here but not as many people do there.
Bethy: Will Santa come to Dubai?
Natalie: Of COURSE Sweetie.
Bethy: And can I write a letter to Santa there?
Natalie: You can write a letter to Santa from anywhere in the world.
Bethy: Does Santa know about the writing left-right and right-left?
Natalie (grins): Yep. He knows all the languages of all the children in all the world.

Later we got into a discussion about the distinct possibility that we won't have a Christmas tree. She seemed unconcerned about that, phew.Perhaps I should pack our a few of our favorite ornaments. Surely there will be room...

Shout, shout, let it all out...

Three reactions to a "group" email to three friends, detailing our plans:
1. "Holy friggin' canoli Natalie!!!!"
2. "Oh my goodness Natalie!"

I can see why I like these girls so much. :)
Bethy's commentary on living in Dubai, and how it will be different from Seattle:"There will be lots of sand and no rain."Later she added, "Hey! We could make sand castles with buckets!"

I'm impressed she's thinking lots more about this aspect than my stern injunction to both children while pointing to a picture of a scorpion: "No touch! NO touch!!!!"
Smart kid, she. Has her priorities straight.

Total eclipse of the heart...

Not to complain, but we're fried. Mentally, that is.There's just so much to think about. Plan, do. What to take, what to leave. What to take it in. What to wear. Where to live. How to pay bills on two hemispheres. What the hey we're going to do with the little darlings on the plane.

And then trying to fit in everything and everybody we can "before we go". Caught a Mariner's game , out for Texan BBQ, a rock concert, and everybody wants a piece of us. It's very flattering, that last bit, but also stressful.

So we trip over our words and drool, and yell at the kids.In addition, I'm trying to cram in some learning about Islam and a teensy bit of Arabic. Bethy has learned her first Arabic word "gamel". You know, Arabic for "camel".

I told her that Arabic is written from right to left instead of from left to right as we do with English. She said, "Well then I'll write it any way I want to."
Alrightly then.

The racism in the US against Muslims is really bothering me. The Dunkin Doughnuts commercial with Rachel Ray wearing a checkered scarf has been pulled because it resembled "The keffiyeh, for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad. Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos..." (Michelle Malkin, Yahoo News)which was interpreted as "symbolic support for terrorism" (Chicago News Tribune, 5/29/08).Excuse me?! The keffiyeh has nothing to do with terrorism! As Mike said, "Planes were used for the Sept 11 attack, do they represent terrorism?"Why is it OK to be anti-Islamic? It's embarrassing. I can only hope that 40 years from now we'll feel the same way about such statements as we do now about throwing around the "N" word and making African Americans move to the back of the bus and use separate drinking fountains. Geez, I hope blue jeans don't become synonymous with blatant stupidity. One can only hope not.What really kills me is the thought that if we weren't going, would I even notice the racism? Aarggh.

My big project right now is finding Bethy a school. Mike has many. How to file taxes (and have the stuff from both countries accessable), asking lots of questions at work. The cars, houses, money, paperwork. Oh yeah, and his job.

Poor Mike.

Closing walls and ticking clocks...

Dubai forecast: 93 degrees at 10:30 PM, tomorrow's high slated to be 104. (40 degrees C). One week has gone by since we got the "go!" and the idea of what we're setting out to do is becoming part of our consciousness. Every moment is defined by the thought "WE'RE GOING!", both waking and sleeping.I am gathering up bags of toys and clothing to donate (and hoping the kids don't notice!) and eyeing our possessions with a mixture of annoyance and regret.

Bethy has a good grip on the entire thing. She asked why I'd said that she probably wouldn't be taking a new dress of hers because it was "too heavy", and what did that mean. I explained that most of our clothes are for the mild climate here and will be too hot for Dubai, that we would only take a few clothes, but that we'd go shopping for new clothes when we got there.Without missing a beat she replied: "I don't want to take ANY clothes!"
She's going to love the official Month of Shopping there.Thomas has been driving our new suitcases around the house. I think we're going to be fine.

The Grandparents have moved past the "tar-and-feather our offspring for taking away the grand kids" stage and are getting excited for us too. This is a very good thing, and relieves a lot of stress.

As for us, we've exchanged the "Holy Mother of God what did we just DO?!" stage for the "Excited" stage, though I keep wondering if I'm going to wake up and find this was all an elaborate dream.I'm babbling about the move to anyone who will stand still long enough and people's reactions have been very interesting to observe, ranging from horror to envy. The most prevalent reactions have been have been those of enthusiastic interest.

I'm loving this.

Don't stop believin'...

Freaking out. At least, that's what we're doing.A flurry of phone calls to friends and family. A realisation that we will get to bring exactly 2 suitcases apiece, our laptops, two small children and a car seat. This is zen clutter reduction at it's most extreme.

Many many hours in the air to get there. The flying with kids has us anxious. (you think?)

Current weather in Seattle: 56 degrees and cloudy. 73% humidity, rain sprinkles. I love it here.

Current weather in Dubai: (and it's the middle of the might there) 83 degrees. 78% humidity. Tomorrow will be 98 degrees and counting.

Soon I'll have to start thinking in Celsius, kilometers, and calculating suscreen requirements.

I've never been to Dubai. Actually, I've never been to the Middle East.
We're jumping in with both feet. I think "geronimo!" would be appropriate at this moment.

Once or twice I've felt just like Wile E Coyote in the moment he realises he ran off the edge of a cliff, the dust clears and he looks down. Of course, after that he begins to fall.

Geronimo indeed! The coyote always gets back up.

What an adventure.